Tory Scholz doesn't run local races. It’s silly, she knows, but something about shelling out money to run a course she could run for fun just never seemed worth it.
“I like to pay for routes or things I don’t have the chance to do on my own,” she said. But after waffling all summer over which Hardrock-qualifying race to enter, she heeded the advice of a close friend and her boyfriend and signed up, last minute, to run the Whistler Alpine Meadows 100-mile race, which took place Friday, Sept. 9.
“I’ve been in a three-plus-year injury cycle,” added Scholz, who lived around the Sea to Sky corridor for years but now calls Lillooet home. “I don’t love racing, but I do it a few times a year.”
While she was somewhat prepared— thanks to training for a running trip to Chamonix to tackle part of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc course with friends for fun—she hadn’t followed a proper plan, which made her nervous at the starting line.
“Because I hadn’t done structured training, I felt a bit blind,” she said. “There are no egos in 100-milers, but then I’m at the start saying, ‘My stupid ego is driving me crazy.’”
Runners—many who were doing their first-ever 100-mile race—started out fast, faster than Scholz was expecting. But she kept a steady pace and was soon at the front of the pack.
A highlight was the first station at Jane Lakes around the 63-km mark. “A lot of the people I ended up running with, we weren’t trying to stay together or not stay together, it was just awesome,” she said. “We got to see the full moon reflecting off the lake at dusk. It was stunning.”
Of course there were challenges to the 161-kilometre race, with its 9,050 metres of elevation. For Scholz, they hit with a mere 22 km left in the race.
“The last 22 K took me seven-and-a-half hours—maybe more,” she said. “I wouldn’t even call it a walk. That runnable service road to get the 9 K to the finish, that’s my jam, but I couldn’t move.”
Still, she crossed the finish line in first place for women in 30 hours, 20 minutes and 40 seconds, with more than a two-hour lead over Sawna Guadarrama (32:45:57) in second place. Nichole Abma came in third at 34:03:10.
“I knew this was a doable 28-, 29-[hour race] for me, but you don’t know what’s going to hit you. That’s the fun of ultramarathons,” Scholz said. “You’ve got to manage the shit and the best manager wins.”
The men’s winner, John Maxwell, meanwhile, travelled from Washington state, and was feeling strong at the starting line after competing in the Squamish 50’s 50/50 race in August. (Both Squamish 50 and WAM are put on by Coast Mountain Trail Running.)
“I felt good. I felt like my fitness was getting to the place I wanted it to be,” he said. “I felt positive coming into the race ... I had a good day and things turned out my way.” While he stayed focused on the climbs, Maxwell said he also made time to enjoy the picturesque course. “With 23 hours out there, you’ve got to enjoy it and soak it all in,” he said. “I’d say the highlights were getting up on top and seeing some of the peaks. When I came up Whistler [Mountain] the second time, it was around midnight and it was so peaceful. The moon was so bright and shiny,you could almost turn your headlamp off.”
Another bright moment: his wife and three kids were on the course to cheer him on. “My kids got into this hobby of making rubber band bracelets. At each aid station I saw them, my son gave me a new bracelet. By the end of the race I had four rubber band bracelets. My family has always been super supportive with the time away I’ve had to put in leading up to these things,” he said.
Maxwell finished in 23 hours, 9 minutes, and 44 seconds.
“I get goosebumps talking about it,” he said. “When it’s that big of a race, I tell myself even in the last 20 K something could happen where you may lose it. I think it was about 6 K of a descent back down to the finish line— that’s when it started clicking in, as long as I don’t fall and hit my head, I should be OK. That’s when I realized it might work out.”
Ihor Verys came in second with a time of 24:13:51 while Simon Widmann placed third with 25:15:59.
Other winners during race weekend from Sept. 9 to 11 included: Nicholas Lightbody for the men’s 100 K (13:00:57); Katherine Mills for the women’s 100 K (15:17:40); Ryan Becker for men’s 50 K (4:49:01); Kalie McCrystal in the women’s 50 K (5:59:32); Marcus Ribi for the men’s Triple Wammy—Ascent race, followed by 25-km and 50-km races over three days— (9:04:56); Leigh Moffett for the women’s Triple Wammy (12:19:09).
For more visit Whistler Alpine Meadows' website.